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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Opinionating: Ten Thoughts on the Bears and Beyond

1) Marc Trestman loves him some bunch formations. I first noticed this watching highlights this summer of Trestman's offense up in Montreal, but he really likes the mismatches created by bunch formations, shotgun or not. They even lined up a few times with Fiametta, Martellus Bennett, and Kyle Adams or Steve Maneri in the bunch and just a single wide receiver. Between the size of the Bears receivers and the versatility of Bennett...this should be a very profitable formation for the team throughout the season.

2)Matt Slauson looks like a great pickup. I didn't single him out in my recap, but PFF had Slauson as the Bears' second highest graded lineman after Mills at a +2.3, and he really has done a great job in the preseason and now in week one setting the pocket. He doesn't look dominant in anything he does, but he he doesn't make many mistakes. He's just now entering the prime of his career at 27 and it's possible some of that money Emery has been moving around to create cap room might be headed his way as part of a midseason extension. His beard is epic, too.

3)Jamie Dukes said what? Apparently Jamie Dukes of NFL Network said the Bears offense looked no different than it did under Lovie while he was a guest on the Score. If Dukes can find me tape of any game in the entire Lovie Era where the Bears ran 30+ plays out of the shotgun (as they did Sunday), I'll eat my laptop.

4) I was really impressed with Trestman's utter refusal to panic. 21-10 seemed pretty pants-shitting worthy at the time, but Trestman continued to mix up his playcalling with runs and passes and focus on high % plays. The offense finally established a rhythm and the Bengals had no answer for it. It was a far cry from the days of Mike Martz screaming "fuck this" and calling 52 passes and only 12 runs like he did against the Saints in 2011 even though they only trailed 16-14 into the 3rd quarter.

5) His day was rather unremarkable from a statistics standpoint, but I was really pleased with Alshon Jeffery on Sunday. Three of his five catches were for first downs, and after looking at it again I'm pretty sure he actually caught the pass on 3rd and 2 that was ruled incomplete on the Bears first drive. He'll have bigger days, but with all of the attention Marshall draws and with M. Bennett now stretching the middle of the field, Jeffery just needs to be a reliable chain-mover, and that's something that Jay didn't have when Jeffery was injured or shuffled in and out of the lineup last year.

6) I've never made any secret of my love of Carson Palmer, even though he's hardly the QB he once was before the injuries. I am glad to see that he was productive in his first day in Bruce Arian's offense. I was less pleased to see that the Cardinals o-line, unsurprisingly, still has some major issues, especially without Cooper. Between Arians gung-ho vertical approach and that line's protection, I predict Carson will be well on pace for another 4,000 YD season when he dies on the field in week seven.

7) Clay Matthews and Suh should both be suspended. They won't be, of course, because good players are often inexplicably immune to Goodell's banhammer. In Matthew's case especially I cannot fathom the hypocrisy of a league that hammers away at "player safety first" and then just ignores when a linebacker who spent all week vowing to hit the quarterback launches himself at said quarterback several yards out of bounds. I mean, does Greg Williams have to offer money to a player to get him to try to intentionally hurt a quarterback in order to make it wrong?

8) Danny Amendola is hurt again. You may not be surprised by this, but I would think the Patriots must be, because the only way I can understand passing on giving Welker a modest extension in favor of signing Amendola is if they were somehow kept in the dark about the fact that Amendola's injury history makes Bob Sanders look like a regular iron man. Bill Belichick the GM is rapidly falling into that AJ Smith territory where early success has convinced him all players are replaceable and thus not worth paying, and it's possible the Pats O could start to suffer the same regression that's plagued their defense since 2007.

9) The tempo of Chip Kelly's offense and it's radical effect on the NFL is going to be widely overstated. Even after running 53 plays in a first half where Washington did everything it could to avoid picking up first downs or maintaining possession, the Eagles only finished with 77 plays (the Skins managed to finish with 70, which is impressive given their weak showing in the first half), not the 80 or so that Kelly desires. I'm willing to bet the Eagles will average little more than the 74 plays a game that New England managed while leading the league last year. That's not to say the offense isn't going to be very successful. As long as Vick stays healthy and makes good decisions (and we know those are big ifs), that offense will do good things, I just think people should be focusing more on the quality of the plays the Eagles run, and not the quantity.

10) The Colts struggling to put away the Raiders reinforced what I already predicted this season for Indianapolis: Luck himself will be more accurate and productive now that he's reunited with Pep Hamilton (most famously known as Rex Grossman's QB coach in 2006, or Luck's old OC at Stanford, I guess), but that Colts defense will keep them from sniffing anywhere near 11 wins again this year.


Keith said...

Philly deliberately slowed the tempo of their offense down in the second half. They were snapping the ball with 20-25 seconds left on the clock. I don't think they actually have any intention of running that tempo for a whole game. If they unload that in the 3rd quarter of a close game where their opponent's defense starts to wear down, their opponent is screwed, and it'll blow the game wide open.

I've not been a big believer in Vick these past few years, but he is the perfect QB to run that offense. If he gets hurt there's no way they can run it as effectively with Foles.

Keith said...

Also: While I do actually think Jeffery has Pro Bowl talent, he doesn't really need eye-popping production for the Bears offense to take several steps forward. Last year there was just no consistent second WR on the team, and no TE to bail Cutler out of pass rushes so drives would get stalled by either an incompletion or a sack. 700 yards from Jeffery should do the trick.

Lee said...

that Colts defense will keep them from sniffing anywhere near 11 wins again this year

And here I was ready to forget about the Colts (and Bjoern Werner). Thanks for nothing.